April 20, 2004

Mameles for Choice

In The Forward, Marjorie Ingall makes a point that too often goes unrecognized. For all the talk of "religious" values on the right, or even of "Judeo-Christian" values, the party line on abortion is specifically contrary to Jewish tradition.

This legislation, equating a fetus with a human being, flies in the face of Halacha, Jewish law. Halacha holds that a fetus doesn't have the legal status of a human being. This judgment is grounded in Exodus 21, which states that if someone injures a pregnant woman and causes her to miscarry, he shall be punished with a fine. But if the pregnant woman dies, the penalty shall be capital punishment. The interpretation is that the fetus does have value, but nothing like that of a full-fledged human. Furthermore, the talmudic commentator Rashi says that the fetus in the womb is lav nefesh hu, not a person, until it actually physically enters the world. So secular laws restricting abortion or access to abortion on the grounds that "life begins at conception" actually use religious doctrine to justify positions that explicitly counter Jewish teachings.

David Adelson, 33, the rabbi of Manhattan's East End Temple... says, "The most well-known Jewish value, the one that trumps any other, even Shabbat, is saving a life: Pikuach nefesh docheh Shabbat. That means, if you have to eat ham sandwiches on Yom Kippur to save a life, you do. And women's lives depend on access to abortion in so many cases."

Mmmm. Ham sandwiches. I'd be remiss in not pointing out that, typical of one of Marjorie columns, this one opens with a much funnier line than any article on the subject has a right to.

The March for Women's Lives, likely to be the largest pro-choice march ever, will take place April 25 in Washington, D.C. I considered taking Josie, but hauling a 2-year-old by bus to the National Mall (a mall that inexplicably does not contain a Disney store) seems foolhardy. Though I suppose Josie's arched-back hurling-self- on-the-ground earsplitting tantrum-throwing when she gets overtired might prove a compelling argument for birth control.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


thanks for the link--that was wonderful.

also check out this story from the NY Times about immigrant Latina women who are against abortion but pro-choice nevertheless:


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